May: EU must respect UK in Brexit talks


UK Prime Minister Theresa May has said the EU must treat the UK with “respect” in Brexit negotiations.

In a statement at Downing Street she said for EU leaders to reject her plan with no alternative at this “late stage of negotiations” was “not acceptable”.

A defiant Mrs May added: “I will not overturn the result of the referendum nor will I break up my country.”

Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab has said there was no “credible alternative” on the table from the EU at the talks.

And he expressed doubt over how serious EU leaders were about the negotiations.

He told the BBC’s Politics Live: “It did not feel like the reciprocation of the statesmanlike approach that she (Mrs May) has taken”.

He added: “We have been rebuffed on our plans without any coherent explanation as to why.”

And he said the UK government was “going to hold our nerve, stay calm and keep negotiating in good faith”.

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The UK is due to leave the EU on 29 March 2019.

Mrs May says her plan for the UK and EU to share a “common rulebook” for goods, but not services, is the only credible way to avoid a hard border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.

But it is opposed by some within her own party who argue it would compromise the UK’s sovereignty. And it got a cool reception at this week’s EU summit in Austria.

In a news conference, European Council President Donald Tusk said there were some “positive elements” in Mrs May’s proposals, known as the Chequers plan.

What’s behind Tusk’s Instagram diplomacy? European press sympathy for Mrs May

But he said EU leaders had agreed that the proposals needed to be redrawn: “The suggested framework for economic co-operation will not work, not least because it is undermining the single market.”

He followed it up by posting a photograph on Instagram of he and Mrs May looking at cakes with the caption: “A piece of cake, perhaps? Sorry, no cherries.”

The EU has argued that the UK cannot “cherry-pick” elements from its rulebook.

Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar told RTÉ on Friday: “I am working every day, as are people across Europe and the UK government to avoid a scenario where we have a no deal, hard Brexit next March.”

He said there would be a “rocky patch over the next couple of weeks” but he believed a deal could be reached.

The UK and EU are trying to reach a deal by mid-November and want to avoid a hard border – physical infrastructure like cameras or guard posts – between Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic but cannot agree on how.

The EU insists on its own “legally binding Irish backstop” – what it describes as an insurance policy to prevent a hard border, if no other solution can be found.

It suggests Northern Ireland should stay aligned with the EU in key areas, in effect staying in the customs union and single market. But the UK says this is unacceptable as it would split Northern Ireland from the rest of the UK.

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BBC News – Home Staff
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